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Parents who serve alcohol at parties can face charges too

In a matter of a few days, graduation ceremonies will commence for high schools across the state of Missouri. Along with school festivities also comes individual parties for each graduate. And while some parents may want to respect the law and avoid serving alcohol to minors, some parents might not see the harm in honoring their child's -- and their friends -- passage into adulthood with an alcoholic beverage.

If you are considering the same thing for your child's graduation party, we'd advise you to stop now before acting. That's because it is illegal here in Missouri, as well as across the nation, to provide alcohol to a minor. Unless you are the parent of the minor and you are on private property, giving alcohol to a minor is a criminal offense that can not only mean negative consequences for you but also for the minor as well.

According to Section 311.310.1 of the Missouri Revised Statutes, furnishing a minor with alcohol is a class B misdemeanor, which carries the possibility of between five and 15 years in prison -- as is explained in Section 558.011.1(2) of the MRS. If this is not the first violation of this type on an individual's record, the charge becomes a class A misdemeanor, which carries a steeper penalty.

Minors are just as likely to incur criminal penalties for their consumption of alcohol as parents are for providing it. Under state and federal law, consuming alcohol under the age of 21 is a punishable offense. Here in Missouri, it can lead to as much as a $1,000 fine and the possibility of up to a year of imprisonment. As the University of Central Missouri's site explains, a minor will also be required to pay attorney and court fees if their charges lead to litigation.

Because alcohol-related criminal charges can negatively impact both an adult and a minor's life, our Columbia readers are highly advised to avoid serving alcohol to minors or allowing them to consume alcohol at any upcoming graduation parties.

Sources: The University of Central Missouri, "Missouri Alcohol Law FAQs," Accessed May 26, 2015

The Alcohol Policy Information System, "State Profiles of Underage Drinking Laws, Missouri," Accessed May 26, 2015

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